Using Roku’s Wii-like Remote with Angry Birds

Dave Zatz —  July 24, 2011

As you know, Roku launched a new line of digital media streamers and the top tier Roku 2 XS brings casual gaming to the platform. Over on the Roku forums, some questions have arisen regarding gameplay and remote control. The three minute video above discusses the Roku RF Bluetooth gaming remote, featuring an accelerometer and gyroscope to enable “motion” control. Think the original Nintendo Wii remote, minus that sensor bar. Angry Birds is the first premium game to take advantage of this technology and Roku kindly bundles the game for free.

I can’t say I’m the biggest Angry Birds fan, nor can I say I’ve been a fan of motion gaming. However, Angry Birds on Roku seems to work reasonably well and looks comparable to its mobile brethren. At first, I thought something was wonky with the zoom feature. However, I later realized it’s not a rendering thing but, rather, is how Angry Birds manges to keep the foreground and background in perspective while keeping the ground fixed at the bottom of the screen. Of course, launching the birds is the more critical gameplay element and it’s intuitive and responsive. To launch those birds at their piggy targets, hold down the OK button and physically manipulate the remote to set the projectile’s direction… then let go of the OK button to let ‘em rip. If we’re nit picking, the little white dots representing trajectory could be larger, but otherwise the game is the game.

Currently, Angry Birds is the only available motion control title… but Roku hopes to have “dramatically” more games available by Christmas, offered “in the $5 range.”

12 responses to Using Roku’s Wii-like Remote with Angry Birds

  1. It looks as though the Youtube channel carried right over to your roku 2. Nice to know.

  2. Yes, good observation. When I first linked the new box to my Roku.com account (which seems to now require a credit card and personal info? uncool), it downloaded all my previous apps. Although I haven’t tried them all (including YT) and some, like Amazon, take a few clicks to launch sometimes and launch slowly. Not sure what that’s about.

  3. Roku has required credit card info ever since they started allowing developers to charge for their channels through Roku (January 2011, I believe). People who had Roku accounts prior to that have not been required to provide CC info for boxes that are already linked, but do have to provide it for newly linked boxes, I believe.

  4. Yeah, I saw something on the forum about it a month or so back but didn’t really pay attention as it didn’t apply to me (yet). I suppose it makes sense and isn’t all that different from Apple’s app ecosystem. The PIN thing is also new to me. It’s not full-on parental control, but I suppose it’s a start.

  5. Boy it surprised me how SLOW the Roku is in loading the game. If its that slow loading angry birds I can only imagine how slow it would be for more complex games.

  6. Yeah, it loads slow. But so do a few other things (Amazon, Channel Store). Could be my wireless connection, which seems flakier than seen from my Roku XDS, and/or some optimizations Roku needs to work out on their new platform. Sometimes being first can be a bit painful. ;)

  7. I tried to start the game (Scott is right; a bit slow to load) but was unaware you had to press the “OK” button to get the remote juiced up. Thanks for your video…darn game was good on the Droid, but 52″ gives it more perspective.

  8. Dave,
    Thanks for all the coverage on Roku.

    I have cut the cable chord since a month & access Netflix & Hulu+ via my Xbox, I have my eyes on Roku since quiet sometime… enough of background, now the question:

    a. Do you think Roku 2 will help me ease the pain of cutting my cable chord over and above what Netflix has to offer?
    b. If yes, which model would you recommend?
    c. I also subscribe to PlayOn & it was banned on Roku last year, do you think that is still the case?
    d. I see YouTube app in the video, is Youtube now available on Roku?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  9. Roku offers may offer the most partners/channels – Netflix and Hulu Plus, plus the occasional Amazon VOD is a pretty good combo. Not perfect, but solid. If you’re fine with SD PlayOn content, some unofficial channels like HGTV shows might also help round things out. I heard the PlayOn app isn’t working with the Roku 2, but I haven’t dug much deeper – you may want to check out the Roku forums. But YouTube is definitely gone… unless you installed it like I had before Google told them to take it down. Unless you need Ethernet or want to play games, the $60 “HD” model would probably be sufficient. But the Roku 2 a little flakey at the moment, so you might wait a few weeks for some firmware updates.

  10. can you purchase the new remote and use it on the previous version of the roku? say… the xds version.

  11. Anyone else had trouble with the gaming remote? I just got the Roku 2 XS with the gaming remote, but the gyroscopic function does not work. When I load Angry Birds, I can get the finger to move up and down with the OK button, but the hand does not move when I move the remote.

  12. I have been having problems with the Roku 3’s remote. The remote does not move in sync with me. It is slightly off and we need to calibrate it.. Does anyone know how??